A vital next step towards Cranbrook getting a long-awaited town centre has been agreed.
Councillors last week agreed to the appointment of Lambert Smith Hampton as a surveying and valuation consultant, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.
The firm will undertake the necessary negotiations over parcels of land owned by a consortium of developers that will be purchased by East Devon District Council (EDDC).
It follows the authority agreeing in January to accept an updated offer from the East Devon New Community Partners (EDNCp) that could see a significant number of new facilities open by the end of 2022.
The ‘hard-fought’ deal with developers will bring forward multi-million-pound plans which include land to provide a range of other community, leisure and business spaces.
A Morrisons supermarket, shops, a youth centre, library and town council offices are set to be in place by the end of next year.
A leisure centre could also be on the cards.
EDDC says it will be investing heavily in Cranbrook’s future to the tune of millions of pounds as it can buy land to build areas of the town centre itself.
Lambert Smith Hampton will carry out valuation work on various parcels of land in Cranbrook town centre to establish current market value.
It will then negotiate on EDDC’s behalf with landowners to support the purchase of one or more of the plots.
The March meeting of EDDC’s cabinet heard that this work is urgently required.
Councillor Dan Ledger, portfolio holder for strategic planning, said: “This is the next step to deliver the town centre and work with the consortium to deliver it, and as soon as we have the land values, we can sign the MOU [memorandum of understanding]and then start to see planning applications come forward. This is a really exciting time.”
EDDC deputy leader Cllr Paul Hayward added: “This is what we are aiming for. We are moving ahead with the town centre, and once we have agreed on the price, we can start investing in Cranbrook.”
Councillors also unanimously agreed to a request from Cranbrook Town Council for a financial sum to be paid to it in lieu of developers delivering changing rooms for a sort pavilion project.
This would enable the town council to procure the design and build of a pavilion as a single entity, the meeting heard.
EDNCp has confirmed it is willing to pay £600,000.
Cllr Ledger said: “This is win for localism and I look forward to them delivering the new facilities for the town.”
Cllr Hayward added: “I am delighted they can crack on and delivery the facilities as the resident are crying out for them.”